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Steven Matz clicks as rest of Mets rotation is unsettled

Steven Matz of the New York Mets pitches

Steven Matz of the New York Mets pitches in the second inning against the New York Yankees at Citi Field on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Steven Matz appeared overwhelmed by the situation, at least briefly. In the first inning of Friday night's Subway Series opener, the Mets' lefty was touched up for a run.

He lacked command of his fastball and feel for his curveball -- casualties perhaps from the heightened scrutiny of pennant-race games with the crosstown Yankees.

But the former Ward Melville star settled in, holding the Yankees to just one run in six innings, an encouraging outing for a starting rotation that has slumped through September.

"I definitely felt stronger as the game went on a little bit," said Matz, who added another pitch to his repertoire.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen had Matz experiment with a slider during his bullpen sessions leading into the start. The work paid off, with Matz using the pitch against lefties such as Brett Gardner.

"It turned out to be working well for me today, so we mixed them in a few more times," said Matz (4-0), who settled down after needing 62 pitches in his first three innings.

Starting pitching has been the Mets' undisputed strength. But entering play Friday, the group had combined for a 4.62 ERA in September, their highest mark for any month this season.

Some of those inconsistencies have come with the Mets trying to manage the workloads of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.

And lefty Jonathon Niese has struggled down the stretch.

Harvey pitches Sunday, though neither Terry Collins nor Sandy Alderson offered any hard details about how much leash he'll have.

Collins said he has some kind of limit in mind for Harvey that will be "a combination" of innings and pitch count. Alderson was less committed.

"I think we're just going to monitor how he's throwing and see where that takes him," Alderson said.

Alderson and Collins said that the Mets' pitching plans haven't been mapped out past early next week.

Harvey has thrown 171 2/3 innings. He and his agent, Scott Boras, consider 180 innings a hard cap. The Mets contend otherwise.

Said Alderson: "We're not going to be prisoners to the data."

As for deGrom, Collins said the Mets have yet to determine whether he will skip his start Tuesday. Part of the decision will hinge on the standings.

Said Alderson: "We haven't plotted it out."

Notes & quotes: Setup man Tyler Clippard (back stiffness) did not pitch. "Just throwing pregame today, felt good throwing, and then literally like the last throw, it just kind of tightened up on me and felt weird and got some treatment," said Clippard, who expects to be available Saturday. "During the game, it loosened up, so I feel like if I had to throw, I probably could've. But just more a precautionary thing. Don't want to push it. It's kind of the luxury of what we got going on here that I'm able to do that." . . . Closer Jeurys Familia said he's fine after he was struck near the left knee with a comebacker in the ninth.

. . . Yoenis Cespedes won't settle for anything less than a six-year deal once he reaches free agency, he told ESPN . . . Lucas Duda homered for the first time since Aug. 2. He had been just 3-for-25 since his return from the DL on Sept. 8 . . . Lefty reliever Dario Alvarez will be down for at least the next two weeks with a groin injury.

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